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Planning Retirement Online

Ageing Traveller Series

The Ageing Traveller series is written by Rose Howell, who has been traveling the world for over 40 years, beginning with New Zealand and then the ‘Hippy trail’ in the 70’s. Her travels have taken her to; Asia, Middle East, UK, Europe, Africa, South America, USA, Canada, China and the Pacific Islands. In total she has visited 67 countries plus all the states of Australia except Western Australia, and her goal is to make the century club. Her passion for travel is documented on her website www.ageing-hipsters-travel.com.

Click here to find out more about Rose.

Getting the best seat on the plane


Photo ageing hipsters travel

Recently hubby and I went to Malaysia via Air Asia (prior to any airline crashes). We are not the tallest couple around, in fact we are both quite short, but we still like to be able to stretch out if possible. The plane wasn’t quite full so we were in luck to have three seats to ourselves. I like the aisle seat and he likes the window. I usually give up any idea of getting an aisle seat if he can score a window. I then sit in the middle.

It was roughly an 8 hour flight and reasonably early in the morning so we were able to comfortably have a stretch. Plus we didn’t have to jostle for that elbow room whilst reading or eating. I often seem to miss out on both the armrests if I am in the middle, (I do push hubby’s elbow off if we are on a flight together) but I normally have to sit there with my arms pinned to my sides.
Exit rows, aisle or window seats and seats close to the front of the plane are considered the best.

  • Aisle seat: my favourite seat because I don’t have to crawl over other passengers to get out and stretch my legs or go to the toilet. Also I am guaranteed of at least one armrest. You can also get your luggage down and disembark quickly.
  • Window seat: Hubby’s favourite because he can take photos on a clear day (he takes far too many) plus he can rest his head on the window if it is a long flight.
  • Exit row seats: These days many of the airlines charge extra for these seats. Our neighbour who is 6’8” is a fan of these seats and is willing to pay extra. You do have responsibilities if sitting here and the steward/stewardess will explain what they are. A child under 15 is not allowed to sit here.
  • Bulkhead seats: These are the seats directly behind walls, curtains or screens that separate different parts of the plane. Because there are no seats in front of you, you won’t get stuck with another passenger reclining into your lap. (Be careful as not all of these seats are good as some may be cramped and uncomfortable.)


Photo of Adelaide from our plane (ageing hipsters travel photo)

Check out SeatGuru.com where you can check out seats for most of the major airlines.

Check out seat pitch, where you can measure the space between a seat and the one immediately behind or in front of it, the higher the number, the more legroom you will have. SeatGuru lists seat pitch for most airlines.

Where not to sit

  • Middle seat: generally undesirable. I get a bit claustrophobic if in the middle of two passengers I don’t know. I am ok with someone I know because I can then lean into their personal space.
  • Rows near flight attendant areas and restrooms: this can be noisy and a constant flow of people going past.
  • Seats close to movie screens: Can hurt your eyes from being too close and can be too bright whilst trying to sleep.

How to get a better seat

  1. Join a frequent flyer program and get priority check in.
  2. Buy your ticket early. Go online and check in as soon as possible and select your seat. You may have to pay but if it is a long flight it will be worth it.
  3. Purchase a better seat. Check with the airline whether you can purchase an exit seat or if the plane isn’t full you may be able to purchase another seat next to yours at a reduced cost. Air Asia often may have a special upgrade cost to Business Class on the day of travel which can be purchased at the check-in desk.
  4. Check in as early as possible and pick your seat. I have been very lucky to get the seat of choice when I get there early.
  5. If you are late be careful because you may lose the seat you were allocated when you booked.
  6. If you have booked through a travel agent they can usually book the seat you want.
  7. If you have a medical condition let them know and most of the time they will ensure you have a good comfortable seat.

Lastly it would be ideal to know which seats are the safest if there is an accident but evidently the jury is out there as they can’t decide which areas are the safest to be. One group says the rear of the plane and another the front.
I have to admit I don’t particularly like flying, in particular take-off and landing, but once I am in the air it is like being on a train (other than when you get turbulence), fairly smooth and a nice view out the window. I read my book or watch a movie to keep from thinking what could go wrong. I don’t have trouble sleeping especially when I have a good seat.

The trouble is I love to travel and to get to most places I want to visit I have to fly.

“Once the travel bug bites, there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my live.” Michael Palin

Rose Howell Biography

Rose has been traveling the world for over 40 years, beginning with New Zealand and then the ‘Hippy trail’ in the 70’s. Her travels have taken her to; Asia, Middle East, UK, Europe, Africa, South America, USA, Canada, China and the Pacific Islands. In total she has visited 67 countries plus all the states of Australia except Western Australia, and her goal is to make the century club.
She has taken all kinds of transport and accommodation from budget to luxury. She has travelled through war zones, survived a bus accident in the Andes and visited areas that are no longer available to tourists, such as the Khyber Pass and Bamiyan Statues in Afghanistan.

Rose wants to inspire others to travel and offers free advice to all travellers in particular those who are embarking on their first travel experience. She has a passion for travel and since retiring from an Adult teaching position with TafeSA, has recently resumed clocking up kilometres interstate and overseas.
Her daughters have inherited the travel bug from their parents. The eldest daughter is a travel journalist/documentary maker based in a beautiful area called ‘Byron Bay’ in New South Wales and with her husband, has two globetrotting toddlers who at the age of 5 and 2 also love to travel. Her youngest daughter and fiancé have recently returned from 2 years working and traveling in the UK and Europe. They have only been home a couple of months and are already getting restless. Oh the travel bug!!!!

Rose has developed a website for the over 50 traveller www.ageing-hipsters-travel.com where you can access for free all her advice and past and present stories. You can add stories of your own too.

She also has a blog on:
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